According to Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/plagiarize) to plagiarize means "to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own." Plagiarism involves using somebody else's ideas, words, research, or any other kind of material as your own without giving proper credit to the source.
"Plagiarism involves two kinds of wrongs. Using another person's ideas, information, or expressions without acknowledging that person's work constitutes intellectual theft. Passing off another person's ideas, information, or expressions as your own to get a better grade or gain some advantage constitutes fraud" (Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers [New York: The Modern Language Association: 2003] 66).
Rule to Remember
Plagiarism is using somebody else's ideas, words, research, or other kinds of material as your own without giving proper credit to the source.
In the age of global connectivity and information sharing, it is often easy to forget to acknowledge the source of information. Some of this information may come from websites, blogs, or even e-mail, but unless the ideas presented in a research paper or any other project are your own, credit needs to be given to these sources, even if they are less conventional.
The In-Text Citations section of this tutorial talks about how to cite sources in text following either the MLA or the APA manual of style. Information on how to document charts, graphs, or other visuals used in research is in the Documenting Visuals section. Finally, the List of Works Cited provides information on creating a Works Cited list or a Reference list. These sections provide general guidelines and examples of the most common kinds of citations used by students in research papers.
The subject of plagiarism is an important one in academia. A lot has been written about it to help students and educators avoid it. Below is a list of excellent resources for further reading and investigation: